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(Major-league players and teams are ineligible.)

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Starting in November, we accept a different sort of journalism from our baseball writers. Should we?

Matthew Trueblood writes about baseball at Armside Run. You can reach him by email or on Twitter at @Arm_Side_Run.

There’s a great essay by Bart Giamatti, written just after the end of the 1977 season, called “The Green Fields of the Mind.” It’s both laconic and flowing, hopeful and somber. It perfectly captures a certain moment in the life cycle of a baseball fan, and it’s full of the warmth, pensiveness, and realism fans need in order to get through the winter in good spirits.

It belongs to another generation.

We no longer bemoan the absence of baseball all winter, the way we might have in 1977. Free agency was a new and ill-established phenomenon then; it’s now a winter-long event unto itself. The winter trade market is livelier, although fewer total trades are made because of all those free agents. Baseball no longer abandons us; it just turns uglier. The rhythm of the offseason is much more jagged than that of the season. The stories we read are less and less focused on the game itself as the winter drags on. It all becomes about who’s going where, and when, and for whom.

There’s a whole new set of jargon one must learn in order to follow the Hot Stove maneuvering. It lacks any of the charm of “painting the black” or “worm burner,” though. There’s no imagery in it, no blood flowing to it. During the offseason, reading about baseball is all about trying to parse the intentionally opaque language reporters use to describe their (invariably) anonymous sources on the latest rumor.

Anonymous. That’s the key word. It isn’t necessarily an evil word, for a reporter, but it sure is a vexing one. In all arenas of American journalism, anonymous sourcing is “much more universal than it was in the Sixties,” according to Dan Okrent, but the Society of Professional Journalists still takes caution and reticence as its official approach to the use of unnamed sources. The director of the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting went a step further in a recent lecture, openly decrying the practice, and in particular, its proliferation in places where it feels unneeded.

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The BP staff recounts some of the winter's best transactions and decisions.


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The staff looks back at some of the 2012 Hot Stove rumors that proved fruitless, and what might have been had they come true.

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November 8, 2013 6:00 am

Rumor Roundup: Backup Planning


Daniel Rathman

The Yankees make a point of appearing to be interested in second basemen other than Robinson Cano. Also, Grant Balfour is popular.

Grant Balfour a Popular Relief Target
Teams in need of late-inning bullpen arms have no shortage of choices in this year’s free agent crop. One of the most popular in the early going appears to be Balfour, who spent the last three seasons with the Athletics and was Oakland’s closer in 2012 and 2013.

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March 28, 2013 5:00 am

Skewed Left: The Future Cost of Present Improvement


Zachary Levine

The future price that each team that improved over the offseason paid.

Are you better off than you were four months ago?

According to the arbiters of all that is correct in Las Vegas, er, offshore, most of you are not. Bovada.lv released its odds for the 2013 World Series in the immediate aftermath of the 2012 World Series, and only eight teams have shorter prices now than they did then. Part of that was a noticeable drop in the house edge, as the bookmakers had to be conservative at the start, lest bettors guess right on who was going to make the big moves. (More on that phenomenon at the end of this piece from November.) Some of it is accurate, though, as accounting for the drop in house edge makes only one other team a gainer (the Cubs, whose odds stayed flat at 75/1).

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January 3, 2013 5:00 am

Skewed Left: Has Baltimore Been Busy Enough?


Zachary Levine

Has the rest of the AL East stolen a march on the Orioles this offseason?

If the Baltimore Orioles don’t have the best backup infielders in the American League next season, it certainly won’t be for lack of effort.

Of the six moves made with players on the 40-man roster this offseason, one was a Rule 5 pick, one was the re-signing of Nate McLouth, and the four others all involve backup infield types, including getting rid of Robert Andino in favor of a returning Brian Roberts and/or maybe Ryan Flaherty at second base.

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December 22, 2012 10:03 am

Overthinking It: The Winter's Quietest Contenders


Ben Lindbergh

Which of last season's contending teams have been least active this offseason, and why?

With only 50 days remaining until the first February report dates—and 100 until Opening Day—most teams have already crossed off the majority of the items on their winter to-do lists, and only a handful of the top 20 free agents are still looking for work. But while many of baseball’s best clubs have stayed busy bringing in new players or bringing back old ones, a few of the teams that made (or came close to making) the playoffs last season have been quiet. Here’s a look at four teams with more tumbleweeds than transactions this winter:

Baltimore Orioles
Biggest move they’ve made:
Re-signing Nate McLouth to a one-year contract
Why they haven’t been busier: The Orioles went from last place to the playoffs without making many major moves last winter, and they didn’t stop tinkering after Opening Day. Unlike the Yankees, who’ve spent much of the winter trying to keep or replace free agents, the O’s entered the offseason with most of their important players under team control for 2013. However, they will have to pony up for arbitration raises, which restricts their financial flexibility.
Will they wish they’d done more? The Orioles’ run differential didn’t prevent them from making the playoffs last season, but the odds aren’t good that they’ll be able to replicate their 29-9 regular-season record in one-run games. Balitmore can hope for better health and better production from their young players, but with their division rivals all active since October, the O’s run a real risk of falling prey to the Plexiglas Principle and losing ground to the teams they leapfrogged last season.
What might they still do? Last winter, Dan Duquette waited until January to sign Wei-Yin Chen and February to trade for Jason Hammel, so it wouldn’t be surprising if he took the patient approach again. This year, Joe Saunders is the most likely late entry to the rotation. It’s a long shot, but the O’s have also been linked to Adam LaRoche, who’d fit in nicely at first with Mark Reynolds off the roster.

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How to be unhappy about every move your favorite team makes.

It's been a frustrating offseason thus far. There haven't been any moves that have been so outrageously silly that I’ve felt the need to skewer the offending team. For the most part, the moves that I've seen this winter have been of the "I get it" variety.

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The Blue Jays pull off the first big blockbuster of the winter, trading for an ace and the last remnants of last offseason's Marlins spending spree.

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Ben and Sam discuss which teams might benefit most from adding a few wins this winter.

Ben and Sam discuss which teams might benefit most from adding a few wins this winter.

Episode 77: "The Teams in the Winter Spending Sweet Spot"

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Are some players about to overdo it in the weight room over the winter?

Every spring, some players show up in camp bragging about how much muscle they built over the offseason. Then, the following spring, some of those same players show up in camp bragging about how much of that muscle they lost. Five examples from 2012:

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